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On March 27, 1997 I walked into the Humane Society of Tampa Bay not knowing that my life would be forever changed when I walked out. (Frankie - 02)
In search of a small dog I wandered up and down the aisles staring into the faces of many needy fur kids, some looking for their lost companions, others in desperate need of a gentle touch and loving home. Much as I wanted to take them all home with me, the vision of the one I searched for was not there.
As I pushed the glass exterior door open and started to take a step out, a girl from behind the desk asked ďDidnít you find one that youíd like to take home?Ē I went back inside and explained that I would have loved to have taken them all home; however, I was looking for a particular type of dog, a small and scruffy terrier type. Iíve always had a weakness for scruffy little pooches.
The girl told me there was a scruffy little dog in there and I must have missed her. I certainly did because our paths had not crossed. She took me back into the kennels and lo and behold, there you were, the little girl who was about to change my world.
I had missed you the first time around because you had gone into the exterior part of your pen and was outdoors enjoying the sunshine.
You Frankie (already named) were lying comfortably and relaxed in the bottom of your enclosure and appeared to be wearing a smile on your face, but surely that was my imagination.
I pulled out the Pet Personality Profile (which I still have today) from the holder in front of your pen and read it:
- PETS NAME: Frankie AGE: 7
- SPAYED/NEUTERED? Yes
- HOW LONG OWNED? 4 years
FED WHAT FOOD? Dry and canned.
- RAISED WITH: 2 children age 7 and 10 (very good with kids).
- HOUSEPET OR KEPT OUTSIDE? house pet
- FENCED YARD? No
- USED TO SLEEPING WHERE? In cage
- HOUSETRAINED? If walked a lot
- USED TO RIDING IN A CAR? Yes
- USED TO WALKING ON A LEASH? yes
- ANY OBEDIENCE TRAINING? Yes. Sit. Come.
- ANY TRICKS? Roll over
- FAVORITE TOYS None
- BAD HABITS: Afraid of storms
- REACTION WHEN LEFT ALONE: Okay
- AFRAID OF: Thunder
- ANY HEALTH PROBLEMS?: No
- WORDS THAT DESCRIBE THIS PET: Friendly, easy-going, active, playful, noisy (w/storms) quiet
Within minutes we were snuggling, I knew we were never going to let go.
Pam Backer, the manager still there today, proceeded to complete the Animal Placement Agreement and then it was time to pick out a new leash and collar and away we go!
You came home and met your new brother Sam for the first time. (Frankie - 05)
Sam being a loner didnít pay much attention to you, but you seemed to respect that and examined your new quarters.
The nine years that followed this day went fast! We experienced our usual ups and downs together but always pulled through. For many years you were in and out of vets for chronic coughing and lung problems. On and off medication you didnít seem to mind and it really didnĎt seem to affect your quality of life. Vets told me you had asthma, allergies and Ďaging of the lungsí as you got older. It never seemed to bother you and your happy little disposition.
Over these years we introduced two new sisters and a new brother into our home. First it was Molly, a very needy little girl that came from the same shelter. Then Lucy, a little stray poodle from the streets that was in need of a home. Last there was Benny, a stray kitty who used to live under my neighborís house until I started feeding him on the front porch and then eventually came inside our home. (Frankie - 06)
You gave the impression you thought all friends and visitors that crossed our threshold were here to see you. You greeted each and every one of them equally with the same love and zest for life. Most greeted you, others did a little fussing, and a few ignored you, but you never noticed because you were the most carefree and cheeriest little dog Iíve ever known.
June 2000, we got bad news. Dr McLemore discovered a tumor under the right side of your front leg and had to operate immediately. He removed the mast cell cancer tumor, but sadly wasnít able to get all of it due to the post tests showing evidence of cancer still in the margins.
Iíll never forget seeing my little girl after the procedure and seeing these huge stitches in your little shaved body. You only weighed 13 lb so the scar looked like railway tracks on your side in the shape of a horseshoe. You were given nine months to live.
I knew we had to make the most of the days that followed so after healing we spent a lot of quality time together doing all the fun things that little doggies love to do. As the months passed and the nine months approached I looked for signs of weakness and failing health, and gratefully those signs never came. You actually lived another six years whole years after the surgery! You were my miracle baby and just werenít ready to let go of the love and joy we shared.
You were always young-acting, even in your older years. Dan often referred to you as ďthe oldest puppy in the world.Ē Anyone that met you thought you were a puppy when indeed you were a little old lady of 16! What with all your energy and vigor and that scruffy furry face you had everyone fooled. (Frankie - 01)
However three days before you passed you became very old. You moved around the house slowly, stopped eating and got very lethargic. We both knew your lungs were failing you and I always said it would be your lungs that would take you and they did.
Our good friend Sue came over the night before you passed. She had lovingly cared for you during our trips away from home. We always knew you were in the best of care and never had to worry, for she loved you as much as if you were her very own. The three of us sat on your blanket with you that night petting you as we felt you slowly leaving. We knew it was a matter of hours and wanted you to know we were with you, close by and in our hearts as much as ever.
That night I made a bed for you and I on the floor in my home office and we lay down together. (Frankie - 03)
I talked to you and told you how much I cared for you and what a good girl you had been all those years. I knew you were listening even though I saw the signs of your weakness increase. Mommy stayed awake all night listening to your shallow breathing and didnít want to sleep in fear you would pass without my touch and love. At 5 am on June 22, 2006 you died in my arms. I was kneeling over you at that moment and your head was cradled in the palm of my right hand and my lips were kissing the side of your head. My left hand was on your chest feeling your heart beat until I felt it no more. You were gone. Forever. My little fur kid. Remembering the pain and the loss hurts so much. I maintained my calmness as you passed because I didnít want to stress you or make you worried. But once you were gone a loud howl-like cry came from deep in my inner core of my stomach that I will never forget. Gone forever, my little girl.
I lay next to your body for the next hour petting and loving you as your soul left. Dan went into the yard and dug a hole with his bare hands under my favourite tree. It was a good spot for you because you loved the backyard. Now I see squirrels, mourning doves, blue jays and cardinals play near your graveside.
I wrapped you up in Danís mothers guidedog blanket with one of my tee-shirts under your head as a way of putting my smell next to your face. I printed out photos of you with mommy, with daddy, and with all your brothers and sisters to put in to the grave.
Daddy ever so gently and lovingly lowered you in and placed each photo, one by one, on top of your little body, and then we covered you together.
Goodbye our little girl. Losing you has left a huge empty hole in our hearts, but we are ever so grateful you were in our world. The joy you brought to me, daddy, and many others is irreplaceable. (Frankie - 04)
Sleep well, precious.
All our love, Susan & Dan
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